The first order of business for an analyst relations (AR) team launching an AR-Sales Partnership Program is to sell Sales on the idea. Without buy-in from sales management, AR will not be able to execute a successful partnership and merely waste time. Getting Sales management buy-in will not assure success, but it will certainly provide AR with the required backing needed to get started and overcome certain hurdles.
The first person to approach is to a certain extent determined by the size of your company. If you work for a large tech vendor the person you approach will not be the head of Global Sales. This individual is always under pressure to produce the numbers and often has the CEO, CFO, COO and others breathing down his or her neck. The head of Global Sales is so manically focused on execution that they will not be receptive to a discussion about innovative techniques with somebody they and their direct reports do not know. In addition, the head of sales for a large vendor will have been out of the field so long that they might have forgotten what it was like having a deal squashed by industry analyst commentary. Tech companies that are smaller do open up the opportunity to go directly to the top, but even in this situation we recommend that AR seek out a different individual.
What AR needs is a savvy sales rep or local sales manager who can coach the AR team on who’s who inside the Sales and field marketing groups. Often this person is someone who has already contacted AR in the past seeking help about a deal being negatively impacted by an analyst. Because they “get” analyst impact on sales deals and hopefully received help from AR, this coach can provide valuable insight into the list of people AR needs to talk to and in what order. Your coach can help you at each stage of the process so you should consider this person a part of your extended team.
AR should be continuously asking everybody in Sales for examples of actual deals impacted by the analysts. The more examples AR has of real impact, the better AR is able to demonstrate that an AR-Sales Partnership Program could have real business value to the company.
After working with the sales coach, AR should patiently work its way up the chain of command, eventually reaching a senior sales executive. At each step of the process AR should be focused on building understanding of the value of an AR-Sales Partnership and recruiting champions who will open doors to the next level. The goal is have a number of sales managers ready to vouch for the idea of an AR-Sales Partnership once AR reaches the most senior sales executive appropriate for your company.
- Obtain buy-in from AR’s chain of command, including commitment to be involved in discussions with sales executives when appropriate
- Seek out a local individual in sales who can act as your coach on the structure and politics of the sales organization
- Methodologically work your way up the sales organization creating champions as you go
- Pitch the most senior sales executive possible to not just approve an AR-Sales Partnership program, but to agree to be the executive sponsor for the partnership
Outline for the “sales presentation” proposing an AR-Sales Partnership Program:
- Title Slide
- The Ecosystem Of Influence
- How Analysts Influence Sales Deals
- Our Proposal: An AR-Sales Partnership
- Services AR Can Provide Field Sales Teams
- Services AR Can Provide Sales Executives
- Provide Services To Sales In Phases
- Discussion On Building The Bridge Between Sales And AR
Bottom Line: The first step in launching an AR-Sales Partnership Program is to develop executive sponsorship in the sales organization. By building the bridge to Sales, AR can set the foundation for executing a phased program.
Question: Do you have a sales rep or local sales manager who can be your coach?
This post is part of a series about building the AR-Sales Partnership Program. In addition to this series, there are a number of posts with tips and tricks about preparing Sales for dealing with analyst influence on deals.
- AR-Sales Partnership [part 1]: It’s not about pushing out reports
- AR-Sales Partnership [part 2]: Building the bridge to Sales
- AR-Sales Partnership [part 3]: Creating the plan
- AR-Sales Partnership [part 4]: Rolling out a pilot program for a small group
- AR-Sales Partnership [part 5]: Edu-marketing to executives and sales reps
- AR-Sales Partnership [part 6]: Action items to launch a project
Are you intrigued by the idea of a strategic and practical AR-Sales Partnership program? SageCircle can help. Our strategists can:
- Assist AR and sales teams develop an effective and practical AR-Sales Partnership program
- Conduct targeted and succinct training for sales teams that provides only the critical skills and knowledge needed – not “nice to know” info that is not relevant to busy sales reps
- Act as a “life line” when on-demand advice is needed on a critical sales deal that is being negatively impacted
SageCircle’s AR-Sales Partnership Plan Builder workshop is designed to help AR develop a detailed plan based on best practices quickly and eliminate wasted effort associated with the “reinvention of the wheel.” The workshop is a structure engagement complete with tools that help AR hit the ground running. Leveraging our research and experience as AR managers working with sales, we have a library of content, training and services that help vendor sales teams use positive commentary or mitigate negative commentary.
To learn more contact us at info [at] sagecircle dot com or 650-274-8309.